By Andrew Barr
Two thirds of Scottish members from Britain’s biggest trade union have voted in favour of including a devolution max option in the 2014 independence referendum.
62 per cent of members replied “yes” when asked if they wanted the option to appear. Those over the age of 65 were most strongly against the proposal, and women were slightly more in favour than men.
The poll puts considerable distance between Unite Scotland and the Labour party in Scotland, whose leader Johann Lamont has already ruled out support for devo-max. Ms Lamont had insisted that devo-max was a form of independence and therefore was not a viable option.
SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said that Labour was now “out of touch” with Unite Scotland, which had backed Johann Lamont during her leadership campaign.
She said: “This poll is a huge blow to the anti-independence campaign and shows how out of touch Johann Lamont has become with her core support.
“Ms Lamont herself was backed by Unite in her leadership contest, while a quarter of her MSP colleagues are members of the union.
“There is a real debate to be had about bringing proper job-creating powers to the Scottish Parliament – but rather than listening to the strong support for a devo max option from Unite members, Ms Lamont and her party is forming an alliance with the Tories against any constitutional change.
“This is not what Unite members voted for when they supported her leadership bid.
“The question has to be asked – if Johann Lamont isn’t even listening to her own supporters any more, who exactly is she listening to?
“The splits and divisions within the anti-independence parties are failing the people of Scotland who want to hear a strong debate on the constitution – not this negative approach refusing to listen to the voices of people across the country.”
Former First Minister Henry McLeish urged Scottish Labour to change its attitude towards further powers earlier this year and called on Ms Lamont to “lead the debate”.
He said: “We should be less concerned about whether it’s devo-plus or devo-max, but Labour has to lead the debate on the future for Scotland, which is neither independence or the status quo.
“Labour is the party that delivered devolution in 1997 and the party now has to embrace devo diversity and see how we can lead and develop the debate.”